America loves hard cider.
After generations of moderate interest, hard cider has seen a resurgence that began earlier in this decade, following a trend that had taken root in Europe. Today you can find at least one brand – usually made locally or regionally – on tap at most area bars.
Interest in cider may be partially connected to the craft beer and foodie trends, which heavily favor locally produced foods and beverages. It doesn’t hurt that many people are avoiding gluten, which is found in most beers but not in hard ciders.
The return to hard cider is a return to our Colonial roots. Many of those who emigrated from the British Isles in the 16th and 17th centuries brought with them their appetite for hard cider. As apple production increased in the United States, so did production of cider.
Locally, Gary and Amy Manoff of Manoff Market Gardens in Solebury debuted Manoff Market Cidery a year ago, using the apples and other fruits grown on the farm to make different flavors of hard ciders. Sales began after many months of research and testing before applying for Pennsylvania licensing.
The couple have an average of nine ciders on tap for tasting and flights, plus bottles ranging from Gold Rush made from their own Gold Rush apples to Twisted Comfort (cider aged in whisky barrels that also held maple syrup for a year) to seasonal specialties such as cranberry and pear. The Manoffs’ newest creation will be aged in bourbon barrels.
This time of year there are plenty of sparkling drinks available, and hard cider is among those you can raise for holiday toasts.
Crisp, effervescent hard cider also is a popular ingredient for punches and cocktails including these two recipes. The first is from blenderhappy.com; the second is from plantingsandpairings.com.
Sparkling Hard Cider Cranberry Cocktail
1 cup frozen raspberries
2 cup frozen or fresh cranberries
½ cup simple syrup
¾ cup cranberry juice
1 to 1.5 litre sparkling alcoholic
1. Combine all puree ingredients in the blender and blend until the mixture has a smooth consistency.
2. Transfer to a sealed container and freeze for 4 to 6 hours.
3. When ready to serve, add a scoop of the frozen fruit puree to each glass and top with cider.
Note: Use nonalcoholic cider for a cocktail for all ages.
Apple Cider Moscow Mule
4 ounces apple cider
1 ½ ounces vodka
¼ lime, juiced
4 to 6 ounces ginger beer
Add apple cider, vodka, lime juice and ice to a copper mug and mix.
Top with ginger beer to fill.